Are you a flash in the pan or strategic?

If your value as a consultant lies in having an up-to-the-moment operational skill with today’s hot application, you will never remain an expert. Organizations will eventually hire or build internal expertise, and your advantage will be fleeting. You will always be chasing the next shiny object.

If, on the other hand, you are known for having strategic insights, for being focused on your client’s outcomes, and for being flexible and creative, your expertise will never become outdated. Your clients hire you for your wisdom, not your oh-so-current skill set.

There will always be other people who are familiar with bleeding-edge technology, but no one stays at the bleeding edge for long. When you’re known for your thinking skills, your value increases every year.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

One of the biggest challenges of a good info pro or researcher is to know when to say when. If we have five hours to spend on a project, we want to spend the entire time gathering information, evaluating it, seeing what’s missing, gathering some more, looking for more missing parts… you get the picture. Then, when our time’s up, we pull all the information together, slap on a cover letter explaining all the approaches we took and why we’re including what we have, and then proudly send it along to our client.

This, of course, does a huge disservice to most clients. If they wanted information overload, they could Google it themselves. Clients ask an info pro or researcher to help answer a question because they have confidence we can not just find the best information given the time frame (and budget, if applicable) but distill it down to something that enables the client to take an action, finish a project, complete a presentation, or otherwise move on to the next step in their work.

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What does a “value-added deliverable” look like?

Infopreneurs know that their value lies not just in what information they find but what they do with the information before they send their deliverable to their client. We often talk about the need to create value-added deliverables, but what exactly does that mean? Isn’t everything you do added value, just because it took your skills and expertise to find the information?

Actually, value-adding is more than “merely” finding the information. It means transforming it into something more. One metric I use to evaluate a deliverable:

  • If most of what my client reads is my own writing, I’ve provided added value.
  • If most of what my client reads is others’ writing, I’m providing little value.

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